Remote working as an idea has been around for a while, but now it’s gathering pace. So, while the number of US employee grew 1.9% from 2013 through to 2014, the telecommuting population rose 5.6%.
The change is being driven by increasing digitalization — the combination of fast, reliable broadband connections and cheap IT are freeing people from the ‘tyranny’ of location-based work. Most particularly, by using cloud-based services remote workers can now not only use and collaborate on documents and data in real-time, but also access a wealth of cost-effective tools they can pick up and put down as and when they need.
And there’s one more thing that’s set to make the number of remote workers take off … the Millennials.
The future of telecommuting
According to a survey last year, 85% of the ‘laptop generation’ who became adults around the Millennium say they want to telecommute all of the time.
This will be a game-changer for many business owners, not least when it comes to considering how much office space they need, if people can work from anywhere. With employees currently at their desks only 50-60% of the time, Fortune 1000 companies around the world are already revisiting their office requirements.
In addition, collaborative software, online messaging and other technologies are facilitating the development of virtual teams — now best-quality providers can be brought together irrespective of where they are.
And far from it being an opportunity to take things easy, remote workers tend to be more productive workers, even if they are involved in relatively mundane work. Chinese call-center employees working from home, for instance, got through 13% more calls in a day than their office-based counterparts.
And not only will owners typically save their business $11,000 a year by allowing just one person to work from home half of the time, but remote working also means that setting up and running a business becomes a lifestyle choice, because you are no longer bound by having to be where the skills or the markets are.
This has massive implications for society, with cities becoming less of a draw, the renaissance of smaller communities as more of us are able to live in beautiful, peaceful locations, and the end of the environmentally-damaging daily commute.
If you do business in the middle of town, this may all sound futuristic, but this picture of tomorrow isn’t a ‘remote’ possibility, it’s very real probability and one you should be prepared for.
Remote working could make your business more efficient and effective, but is it the correct next step you should be taking in the digitalization of your company? One of the best ways to find out is to use our unique Digital Index tool.